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The Art of Rational Speaker Placement

Discussion in 'audio' started by Daveja, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. Daveja

    Daveja Member

    When buying my first HiFi in 1980 the agreed wisdom was to purchase the best source you could afford. Nowadays it seems speakers are the most important part in the chain and judging from several threads, one of the most frequently swapped parts. Given that to hear your system at its best the speakers must be in their optimum position, my question is "How do you find that perfect placement?"
    From a personal point of view, I dont need an audio analysis of my room to tell me that my listening area is not ideal, the room layout governed by SWMBO. Until now I have accepted that I probably wasnt hearing my system at its best but made do with it being good enough.
    That all changed when I came across The Art of Rational Speaker Placement, a version of Master Set Speaker Positioning. After several hours I now have the sound, no make that the music I always wanted. It wasnt the suspended wooden floor, unequal room, or soft furnishings which dragged down the sound but speaker position. Its been a revelation. I initially did this from instructions I found online for free but was so pleased with the results I purchased the detailed instructions from The Art of Rational Speaker Placement website. Also Bob was very helpful when answering my queries. Without doubt the best $40 ever spent on my system.
    So, having answered my own question, I would be very interested in other setup methods you have found helpful. Specifically speaker placement methods rather than room treatments/analysis.
    I think Speaker postion is second only to Mastering in obtaining the audio quality we all seek. It would be very helpful to newcomers if there was some detailed advice on the Forum on speaker positioning methods.
  2. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    'Most' domestic listeners who share the room have very limited options as to where the speakers can be placed , conventional loudspeakers often are placed away from walls which cancels rear projected bass at certain frequencies.
    Speakers prefer a symmetrical set up seeing the same surfaces for left and right channels.
    Personally I find acoustically measuring your room essential , once you are aware of the problems then you can set about treating them.
    Rooms/speakers interact irrespective of placement.
  3. mercalia

    mercalia pfm Member

    a few parameters - backwall/side wall placement, distance between them, toeing in, fireing down a room or across it ( if retangular ), stand rigidity. Thats all I can really change.
  4. Mick P

    Mick P Retired and content


    What you have suggested is akin to giving advice on how to live a sad life all by yourself.

    Most systems placed in the normal triangular position with cables going everywhere with a bloody enormous set of speakers sticking out from the wall are usually owned by elderly bachelors or men still living with their mum.

    Homes are to be lived in and you have to accept the fact that most wives have about as much interest in Hifi as you do about the sex life of a toad. Therefore some compromise is inevitable.

    Most women want small speakers up against the wall etc because it fits in with how they want their home to look.

    Less than 1% of the population are going to go along with what you recommend.

    I have now got some Shahinians which I can move around to get the best sound that suits my ears. They get stored firmly up against the wall when not in use.


  5. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Mick the speakers I sell are all designed to be placed tight into corners ,or against walls or in free space, they can be adjusted to be placed anywhere, they are compact and yet play from 19hz upwards, they have built in amps,DAC,adcs and preamps, you could connect your phone to them and enjoy the best sound you have ever experienced.
    I am not an advocate of having twenty eight boxes to play a record, the hifi 'shrine' is dead.
  6. tuga

    tuga European

    I suggest following Vandersteen's indications (which you can find in all their manuals, i.e. here from page 8 onwards) for a general approach, followed by the use of a microphone with a final fine-tuning/confirmation by ear.

    My measuring workflow is as follows:

    1. start with the speakers distancing around 2m from each other and a bit more to the listening spot

    2. place mic on tripod and adjust to ear height

    3. point to one speaker - only measure one speaker at a time!

    5. generate pink noise signal or play file/ CD

    6. turn on software's SPL meter and adjust system volume level to 40dB above room background noise

    7. when that's done, select curve smoothing to 1/6 octave and evaluate the curve

    8. print screen file #01, mark position of speakers on floor with tape and make a sketch plan with position and file #

    9. move speaker back and/ or forth some 15-20cm for a broader view and repeat previous step

    10 move mic back and/ or forth and repeat step 8

    11. compare curves and move speakers to the position with the smoothest sub 300Hz response

    I chose to measure a combination of three speaker (back to front) positions for each mic/ listener position, then a few more with tighter adjustments after I fine-tuned speaker and listener positions.

    When you're done, adjust toe-in using measurements and ears.

    If the room is box shaped and the speakers are positioned symmetrically in the room you won't need to go through the process twice.

  7. tuga

    tuga European

    Here's an example of measurements taken in a previous room, where one can see the effects of the asymmetric nature of the room (side walls):


    Speaker baffle 0.60m to side and back wall, listening spot 2.50m distance to back wall



    Speaker baffle 0.60m to side wall and 0.75m to back wall, listening spot 2.90m to back wall



    Room plan​

  8. Dozey

    Dozey Air guitar member

    The nice thing about the art of rational speaker placement is that there is no need for measurement or room treatments. The speaker is placed by ear so that it works optimally in the room you have.
  9. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    No speaker works optimally in a room unless the room has been purposely designed i.e. with acres of acoustic foam in every direction, to absorb low bass.
  10. tuga

    tuga European

    In my experience, measurements are much better or more accurate at determining optimal positioning than the ear but I can understand that its use may seem daunting for the average audiophile.

  11. Rug Doc

    Rug Doc pfm Member

    I used the master set to setup speakers in the room I have now. It works amazingly and gets a very good soundstage. I'm not really interested in how 'bad' it sounds by checking it out on a piece of software - I wouldn't be able to put up sound absorbing stuff or bass traps anyway - I'm happily married!!
  12. Daveja

    Daveja Member

    However, it is surprising how the ear can pick up minute changes in sound from very small speaker position adjustments. Another plus for using a subjective rather than scientific method is it takes into account that your hearing may not be symmetrical. But I can understand that data is important for those who are not average audiophiles.
  13. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    Moving your listening seat will almost certainly have far more effect than moving your speakers.
  14. Still

    Still he said his naim was ralph

    Bloody Hell! How much did he charge?

  15. hermit

    hermit pfm Member

    No. Earlier this evening, at funk o'clock, my shrine was working fine :)

  16. hifi-dog

    hifi-dog pfm Member

    Yay!! That's spectacular !!
  17. mercalia

    mercalia pfm Member

    hmm you need a bigger tv screen to match those speakers;) or do you use binoculars to watch it?
  18. hermit

    hermit pfm Member

    Actually the camera makes everything look further away.

    TV - 40" - adequate

    Speakers - 15" - > adequate :)
  19. graystoke4

    graystoke4 pfm Member

    just a thought but, can you get someone to come to your house to do this measurement or room treatment thing for you, it will be a lot less hassle, and you do not need to buy a mic and stand and the rest of the gear, also it's ok seeing the graph's but where do you go from there ?, and someone who knows what he's doing would be a lot quicker than me, i would be interested in getting someone round if the price was not to crazy,,any idea's on this and how much would someone want for doing this,
  20. tuga

    tuga European

    The ear is a very powerful instrument and I use it for fine-tuning.
    But it's also biased by taste and easily tricked by the musical or noise programme you use for assessment.

    Measurements quantify, are repeatable and unbiased.

    If you look at the plots I posted above you'll instinctively know which is better even if you are new to measurements.
    The process is easy : measure, move, measure, move again, until is as flat as possible.
    Then use your ears for toe-in and final adjustments.
    Easy and effective.

    Those who have used calibration equipment with computer displays will know how much they improve image quality.


    Of course some may say that they prefer the left half of the image but that doesn't make better. :)


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